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The Recent Election

 Brownson's Quarterly Review for January, 1845
The country has had enough of political discussion for the last year, and now needs repose. Much has been said and done for which we as a people should humble ourselves and ask pardon of the God of nations. On neither side has the compaign been conducted in a firm, upright, and honest manner. Both parties have occasionally resorted to practices which are unbecoming freemen, and repugnant to the purity and stability of our political institutions. But the struggle has been a desperate one, and almost every thing was at stake. Much also must be pardoned to human infirmity. Men are not saints or angels, and we have no right to expect perfection in their conduct, whether individual or collective. However much there may have been to disapprove on the one side or the other, the result shows that an ever merciful Providence still continues to watch over us, and that the God of our fathers has not wholly abandoned us.

For ourselves, in the late election, we have been rather a censor of both parties than a partisan of either. Many of our Democratic friends regretted some remarks we made on the protective policy in our journal for October last. If we had supposed Mr. Polk's election at all uncertain, or if we had supposed our remarks could have deprived him of a single vote, we certainly should not have made them at the time we did. We felt called upon, in justice to ourselves and to our readers, to enter our protest against the unsound views advocated, or seemingly advocated, by a portion of the Democratic press on the subject of the tariff. Believing as we do that the protective policy, so called, is deeply prejudicial to the interests of labor, and in fact ruinous to every section of our country, we could not remain silent while any portion of our friends were seeming to advocate it. Our remarks did no harm, and we hope that they may have done some good. It is important that in a country like ours that elections should be conducted in strict principle, that the real issues be made up, distinctly presented, and firmly adhered to; for we cannot repeat too often, that it is better to be defeated with our principles than to succeed without them.

But enough of this. Those who have accused us of dissenting from the Democratic party, and of turning Whig, we trust will live long enough to discover their mistake. We are no blind partisans,- no slavish adherents to any party; but we approve, and support as well as we can, not all the leading doctrines, but all the leading measures of the Democratic party, and shall most likely continue to do so. The Democratic party is not all we wish it; but it is the only party in the country which it seems to us possible for an honest man and a firm patriot to support. So regarding it, we rejoice in the election of its presidential candidate, and look forward with some hope to the dawn of a better day for our country.

The election of Mr. Polk has settled several important questions, and we hope permanently settled them. We have now, we trust, got rid for ever of the log cabin, 'coon skins, and the like methods of appealing to the good sense of independent voters, of influencing virtuous and intelligent electors! We shall have no United States Bank! The new feudalism will not be consolidated and fastened for ever on the country beyond the hope of redress. We shall have no distribution of the proceeds of the public lands among the states as bribes to an iniquitous policy, and for the purpose of making the states dependent on their own creature. We shall have no assumption of the state debts by the federal government, and the indebted states will be taught that they cannot run in debt in the expectation that the Union will relieve them. We shall have a divorce between the government and the banks, and the business of banking, by the establishment of an independent treasury. This cardinal measure of Mr. Van Buren's administration, we trust will be revived, with some modifications, and, if reenacted, it cannot fail to become the settled p[olicy of the country. This, if we stop here, will be no slight gain, and sufficient to render Mr. Polk's administration memorable.

But, in addition, we shall have Texas. The reannexation of Texas is a measure of vital importance to this country, and must and will sooner or later be effected, in one way or another. They who oppose it are warring against the interests of their country, the interests of Texas, and even of Mexico. It is remarkable that we have in our country a large party which always acts on the principle, that, in every controversy with foreign powers, our country is sure to be in the wrong. These are opposed to the reannexation of Texas, but they are impotent, and should never be counted. They may be led on by the venerable sage of Quincy, and the distinguished senator from Missouri, but they can effect nothing. They may plead, they may warn, may threaten; may aid and abet the enemies of the republic; but we trust the government will pursue its course without heeding them, knowing that their opposition is founded on no loftier principle than disappointed ambition, and unwillingness that the interests of the country should be promoted by any hands but their own.

We have no space nor inclination to discuss the Texas question; but there is one point in the discussion which seems not to have received the attention it deserves. In the minds of many of our people, the point we refer to is regarded as of no importance, because many of us hold to the sacred right of rebellion, revolt, revolution, and that the people, without regard to preexisting governmental obligations, have a right to fall back on their primitive sovereignty, and establish a new and independent government, as seems to them good. With these the simple question is, whether the people of Texas have or have not declared themselves independent of Mexico, and established a government for themselves. But, for ourselves, we detest this doctrine. We utterly deny the right of revolution, or the right to resist, for any purpose whatever, legitimate government in the legal discharge of its functions. If Texas were a revolted province of Mexico, as it seems to be widely taken for granted that it is, we should deny the right of our government to treat with it for annexation, or any other purpose, without the consent of Mexico. But the fact is, and this is the point not duly considered, Texas is not, and never has been, a revolted province of Mexico. Texas, with the adjoining province, by the Mexican congress of 1824, was constituted an independent state, with a stipulation in favor of a constitution as soon as its population should warrant. It became an independent member of the United States of Mexico, holding the same relation to the Mexican government that is held by Massachusetts to our federal Union. This fact should be remembered.

Now, the present government of Mexico is a government established by a revolution effected subsequently to 1824, against which Texas has uniformly protested. The Mexican revolution effected by Santa Anna dissolved the Mexican confederacy, and threw each member back upon its own state sovereignty. Texas was absolved by this revolution from all obligation to the Mexican government, because the Mexican government to which she was bound no longer existed. She was then free either to give in her adhesion to the revolutionary government of Mexico, or to declare herself, as she was in fact and in right, an independent government. She chose the latter. Texas has, then, never rebelled against Mexico,- has never broken any of her obligations to the Mexican confederacy. Mexico has no claim to her allegiance, and can have none till she restores the federal constitution of 1824. The consent of Mexico is not, then, at all necessary to be sought, and to annex Texas to the Union can be no breach of our friendly relations with Mexico, not merely de facto, but de jure,- not because made so by the success of her arms, as too many of our people contend, but because made so by the constitution of 1824, and the subsequent Mexican revolution, against which Texas protested from the beginning. This Mr. Benton must know, and, knowing this, he must know that the consent of Mexico is a matter of no more consequence in a legal point of view than the consent of the great Cham of Tartary.

But we trust further discussion of the question is unneccessary. Some of the northern states will bluster, and pass furious resolves; some newspapers will foam and rage; some abolition fanatics will talk largely, and declaim violently, and intrigue with England, but the measure, when consummated, will be peacefully acquiesced in, will be highly popular, and redound to the honor of those by whose agency it is effected.

The remaining question for the new administration to settle is the tariff question. Here we apprehend more difficulty and a less satisfactory result. Unless the tariff is adjusted to the principle of what is called the Compromise Act, the question will not be disposed of. A revenue tariff all will acquiesce in; but a protective tariff will not be acquiesced in. If the new administration contents itself merely with modifying the present tariff, without expunging the protective principle, the question will remain open, and the country will continue to be agitated, to the great detriment of every branch of business. We hope, now that the people have, by so decisive a vote, condemned the father of "the American system," the government will have the courage to propose and persist in the only wise and just policy, that of adjusting the tariff on revenue principles, and revenue principles alone.

The naturalization laws, about which there is just now so much excitement, will, doubtless, remain as they are. They were adopted under the administration of Mr. Jefferson, and the Democratic party is virtually pledged before the world to sustain them, and most assuredly will sustain them, unless our naturalized citizens by voting, as large masses of them usually do, for the Whig party, throw the democratic party into the minority. The Whigs, who have always derived more advantage from the vote of naturalized citizens than does the Democratic party, may carry on the war against foreigners; but the Democratic party will be true to their past policy and will sustain it so long as they hold the power.

In conclusion, we have only to express our gratitude to Almighty God for the result of the late election, and to call upon our Democratic friends throughout the Union to unite and sustain the administration they have elected, and to urge it on in the firm and unwearied pursuit of that policy which will be for the common good of the whole country, the elevation of labor, the promotion of intelligence and virtue, and the securing of true and permanent national prosperity, by warring against all monopolies, and refusing to grant any special protection to any one interest over another. Justice to all, favors to none, must be the American statesman's motto.